Mathematics

MTHM045 - Space Weather and Plasmas (2019)

Back | Download as PDF
MODULE TITLESpace Weather and Plasmas CREDIT VALUE15
MODULE CODEMTHM045 MODULE CONVENERDr Claire Foullon (Coordinator)
DURATION: TERM 1 2 3
DURATION: WEEKS 0 11 0
Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 21
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content

Major new discoveries and knowledge gained from space missions and ground-based observations, theory, and modeling are providing a wealth of engaging and inspiring topics for mathematicians and physicists to explore the physics of our space environment. This module includes interactive experiments (in-class demonstrations and online tools for independent study) while dealing with the mathematics of heliospheric physics, covering the solar wind, Sun-Earth relations and space weather. Heliospheric physics is a major application of the field of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) but can go beyond MHD and captures fundamentals of plasma physics.

Pre-requisite Module: MTHM031, or equivalent.

Other helpful or related modules that may lead to interest in taking this module, are: MTH3030, MTHM025, PHY2021, PHYM012.

AIMS - intentions of the module

To introduce the rapidly changing field of heliophysics, space weather and space plasma physics, to capture fundamentals of plasma physics by giving an extended view of the applications of MHD and the subject of electrically conducting fluid dynamics, to review the basic physics underlying the dynamics of the Sun, to provide a background in the description of physical processes in the solar system in terms of MHD and to show the results of recent observations.

The module will complement several modules taught in Term 1 in Maths (e.g. MTHM031) and Physics (e.g. PHYM012).

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:

1 Identify the main features and phenomena observed on the solar surface, in the solar atmosphere and in the heliosphere;

2 Describe the basic physical processes at work and express the basic dynamic processes operating in the solar system, in terms of MHD;

3 Articulate the concepts and deduce the equations governing the interaction of solar system plasmas and the solar activity effects on space weather;

4 Test and develop models exploiting ideas connecting physics, geophysics and astrophysics, natural sciences, physics of the weather, and applied Mathematics;

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:

5 Explain mathematical solutions in terms of physical effects;

6 Formulate a real physical problem mathematically;

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:

7 Develop communication skills via in-class discussions;

8 Practise time management skills in order to meet coursework deadlines.

SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module

Introduction to Heliophysics:

- Overall properties, overview and interesting features;

Physics of Space Plasmas: An Overview:

- Particle and fluid descriptions; electromagnetic equations, momentum equation;

- Single particle motion;

- Basics of MHD Equations (reminders, e.g. Induction Equation);

- Magnetohydrostatics; plasma beta; potential fields;

Solar MHD: Structures of the Magnetic field:

- Force-free fields;

- Force-free arcades;

- Prominences (properties and model equilibria);

- Grad-Shafranov equation;

- The Lorentz force: magnetic pressure and tension; magnetic field lines, intense flux tubes and sunspots (properties and simple model);

Solar MHD: Magnetic field Reconnection and Solar Flares:

- Diffusion processes;

- Fluid descriptions of magnetic reconnection;

- Flare properties, standard model and statistics;

MHD Waves:

- Linearised MHD equations; Fourier analysis;

- Basic wave properties (reminders or complements);

- Magnetoacoustic modes;

Solar Wind:

- History; energy equation; hydrostatic corona;

- Parker's isothermal model (also adiabatic model); rotation of the Sun and the Parker spiral; the structure and evolution of the three-dimensional solar wind;

- Coronal mass ejections: morphology; kinematics; main forces involved.

Magnetospheric Physics:

- Planetary magnetic fields;

- Fundamentals of planetary magnetospheres (cavity, magnetopause, magnetotail)/ Comparative planetary environments;

- Solar-wind magnetosphere coupling: an MHD perspective;

Space Weather:

- Space storms and radiation.

 

LEARNING AND TEACHING
LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS (given in hours of study time)
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities 33.00 Guided Independent Study 117.00 Placement / Study Abroad 0.00
DETAILS OF LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS
Category Hours of study time Description
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 22 Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 11 Example Classes
Guided Independent Study 30 Problem Sheets
Guided Independent Study 87 Reading, Revision and Preparation

 

ASSESSMENT
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Problem sheets containing a mixture of short answer questions and more comprehensive exercises 6 hours/4 questions per problem sheet (3 sheets) 1-8 Feedback comments on individual student work; Examples, classes, solutions and general comments uploaded to ELE

 

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT (% of credit)
Coursework 20 Written Exams 80 Practical Exams 0
DETAILS OF SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Written Exam – Closed Book 80 2 hours - Summer Exam Period 1-8 Writtent/Verbal on request
Coursework 20 20 hours 1-8 Feedback sheet

 

DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-assessment
Written Exam Written Exam All August Ref/Def Period

 

RE-ASSESSMENT NOTES

Referred and deferred assessment will be by examination. For referrals, only the examination will count, a mark of 50% being awarded if the examination is passed. For deferrals, candidates will be awarded the higher of the deferred examination mark or the deferred examination mark combined with the original coursework mark.

 

RESOURCES
INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener

Basic Reading:

ELE: https://vle.exeter.ac.uk/

Web based and Electronic Resources:

http://spacephysics.ucla.edu/index.html

https://helioviewer.org/

 

 

Reading list for this module:

Type Author Title Edition Publisher Year ISBN Search
Set Priest, E. Solar Magnetohydrodynamics Forum Library 523.7 PRI D. Reidel Publishing Company 1982 902771374X [Library]
Set Priest, E Magnetohydro-Dynamics of the Sun Forum Library 538.6 PRI Cambridge University Press 2014 978-0521854719 [Library]
Set Schrijver, C.J. and Siscoe, G. Heliophysics 1: Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Library online Cambridge University Press 2009 978-1107340657 [Library]
Set Schrijver, C.J. and Siscoe, G. Heliophysics 2: Space Storms and Radiation: Causes and Effects Library online Cambridge University Press 2010 978-1139194532 [Library]
Set Schrijver, C.J. and Siscoe, G. Heliophysics 3: Evolving Solar Activity and the Climates of Space and Earth Library online Cambridge University Press 2010 978-0511760358 [Library]
Set Russell, C.T., Luhmann, J.G., Strangeway, R.J. Space Physics: An Introduction Forum Library 523.01 RUS or 523 Cambridge University Press 2016 978-1107098824 [Library]
CREDIT VALUE 15 ECTS VALUE 7.5
PRE-REQUISITE MODULES MTHM031
CO-REQUISITE MODULES
NQF LEVEL (FHEQ) 7 AVAILABLE AS DISTANCE LEARNING No
ORIGIN DATE Tuesday 10 July 2018 LAST REVISION DATE Thursday 08 August 2019
KEY WORDS SEARCH Space Plasmas; Plasma Physics; MHD; Magnetic Fields; Sun; Solar System; Heliophysics; Space Weather; Solar Wind; Solar Activity: Weather (effect of Solar activity on); Heliosphere (Astrophysics); Solar-Terrestrial Physics; Applications of Vector Calculus